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Summary "Action Theory" as it is used here is the sub-area in the philosophy of action/agency that is concerned chiefly with the foundations of the broader sub-discipline. Central problems include the nature and scope of intentional action and agency, the explanation of action, and our knowledge of our actions. Most of the other problems that fall within the scope of this category at PhilPapers are closely related to such foundational questions.
Key works [BROKEN REFERENCE: DORRAC-2w]#DORRAC-2Perhaps the two most influential works that have shaped the current state of action theory are Anscombe 1957 and Davidson 1963. Davidson's essay is the locus classicus for the causal theory of action and for causalism about reason-explanations of actions. Anscombe's book has been influential among proponents of non-causal theories of action and reason-explanation. For a classic defense of the agent-causal perspective, see Chisholm 1966. And for a volitionist perspective, see McCann 1974. Some collections of essays that may help readers get a sense of the major debates in action theory today include Mele 1997, Aguilar & Buckareff 2010, Aguilar & Buckareff 2009, and D'Oro & Sandis 2013.
Introductions The following are good places to start to for those looking for guides to the current state of the art in action theory. Mele 2005 Mele 1992 Wilson 2008
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  1. Forrest E. Baird (1992). Human Thought and Action. Upa.
    A book of readings in Western intellectual history focusing on the role of reason in human action. Contents:^ Plato: Myth of the Cave; Plato: ^IThe Four Virtues; Aristotle: Knowledge of Causes; Aristotle: The Types of Governments; Epicurus: Epicureanism; Epictetus: Stoicism; St. Augustine: The Platonist; St. Augustine: The Nature of Sources of Evil; St. Thomas Aquinas: The Four Laws; St. Thomas Aquinas: The Nature of the Soul; Pico: The Oration on the Dignity of Man; John Calvin: Reason, Sin and Illumination; St. (...)
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  2. S. J. Boey (2013). De dubbele oorspronkelijkheid Van blondels “action”. Bijdragen 24 (2):130-153.
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  3. Philip E. Davis (1962). Action" and "Cause of Action. Mind 71 (281):93-95.
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  4. Giovanni De Grandis (2002). John R. Searle, Rationality in Action. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 6:370-374.
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  5. Eugene De Roberty (1909). Sociologie de l'Action. Philosophical Review 18 (6):669-672.
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  6. Donald G. Doehring (1957). Conditioning of Muscle Action Potential Responses Resulting From Passive Hand Movement. Journal of Experimental Psychology 54 (4):292.
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  7. Thomas J. Donahue, Agency Theory Reconsidered.
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  8. Thomas Jay Donaldson (1976). Toward a Theory of Action: A Philosophical Investigation Into the Conditions for the Understanding of Human Action, with Consequences for a Future Theory of Action. Dissertation, University of Kansas
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  9. C. F. Douglass (2003). Rationality in Action by John Searle. Auslegung 26 (2):106-112.
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  10. R. E. Dowling (1969). ROWN, D. G.: Action. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 47:404.
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  11. Denis Dutton (1984). Understanding Human Action. Philosophical Books 25 (1):38-41.
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  12. A. R. E. (1966). Action and Purpose. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 20 (1):161-162.
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  13. J. J. E. (1971). Action. Review of Metaphysics 24 (3):536-537.
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  14. T. L. E. (1979). The Acting Person. Review of Metaphysics 33 (2):453-454.
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  15. Editor Editor (1896). Voluntary Action. Mind 5:354.
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  16. The Editor (1896). Voluntary Action. Mind 5 (19):354-366.
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  17. A. Edwards (2009). Agency and Activity Theory: From the Systemic to the Relational. In Annalisa Sannino, Harry Daniels & Kris D. Gutierrez (eds.), Learning and Expanding with Activity Theory. Cambridge University Press. 197--211.
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  18. Jim Edwards (1991). Explaining Human Action. Philosophical Books 32 (2):110-111.
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  19. Geneviève Even-Granboulan (1977). Review: Science Ou Philosophie de L'Action: L'analyse de l'Action Et le Problème de l'Inférence Pratique. [REVIEW] Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 82 (1):108 - 120.
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  20. Steven Farrelly-Jackson (1997). On Art and Intention. Heythrop Journal 38 (2):172–179.
    The author discusses a puzzle about the place of intention in art, a puzzle first articulated by Richard Wollheim in his well‐known lecture ‘On Drawing an Object’. The puzzle arises if we try to hold jointly three commonly‐held claims, viz. Art is intentional; The artist, in making a work of art, needs to observe what he has done, in order to know what he has done; A necessary condition of intentional action is that when an agent acts intentionally then he (...)
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  21. Brian Fay (1978). Practical Reasoning, Rationality and the Explanation of Intentional Action. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 8 (1):77-101.
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  22. Luca Ferrero (2009). Action. In John Shand (ed.), Central Issues of Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
    We are agents. Not only are we capable of acting, but considerable portions of our lives are taken up by our doings, by exercises of our agency. Our actions and doings are essential to much of what we cherish most in our lives, and—arguably—our death can be equated with the permanent loss of our agency. Under these respects, we differ from inanimate objects, artifacts, chemical substances, and natural phenomena such as—for instance—planets, tables, acids, and lightning-storms. When we speak of the (...)
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  23. K. Fine & Nicholas Rescher (1970). The Logic of Decision and Action. Philosophical Quarterly 20 (80):287.
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  24. Antony Flew (1959). Determinism and Rational Behaviour. Mind 68 (271):377-382.
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  25. Richard Foley (1977). Deliberate Action. Philosophical Review 86 (1):58-69.
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  26. Denis Forest (2007). Bain et les théories centralistes de l'action et de la conscience d'agir. Revue d'Histoire des Sciences 2:357-374.
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  27. Stephan Fuchs (2001). Beyond Agency. Sociological Theory 19 (1):24-40.
    The reason why agency/structure and micro/macro debates remain unresolved is the bad essentialist habit of treating such pairs as opposite natural kinds. Once variation is allowed, agency and structure, or micro and macro, are temporary poles bracketing a continuum, with social entities moving along this continuum over time. Explaining these transformations from agency into structure, or micro into macro, and vice versa is the challenge for explanatory theory. This challenge is met by switching to a constructivist level of second-order observing. (...)
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  28. Ryoji Fujimoto & Chang-Bong Choi, Interpretation of Action and Sociality of Action.
    SOCREAL 2010: 2nd International Workshop on Philosophy and Ethics of Social Reality. Sapporo, Japan, 2010-03-27/28. Session 3: Responsibility and Collective Agency.
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  29. Robert I. Gannon (1944). Action This Day. Thought 19 (3):389-392.
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  30. Linda C. Garro (2010). By the Will of Others or by One's Own Action? In Keith M. Murphy & C. Jason Throop (eds.), Toward an Anthropology of the Will. Stanford University Press. 69--100.
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  31. G. Nigel Gilbert & Peter Abell (1983). Accounts and Action. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  32. Claude Giraud (1994). Concepts d'Une Sociologie de l'Action Introduction Raisonnée. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  33. Alvin Ira Goldman (1965). Action. Dissertation, Princeton University
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  34. Ana Marta González, Action in a Narrow and in a Broad Sense.
    The purpose of this chapter is to clarify the difference between deliberate action and spontaneous action, and see how Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume and Kant approach this topic.
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  35. Michael John Gorr (1975). The Structure of Human Action. Dissertation, Brown University
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  36. Scott T. Grafton & Richard B. Ivry (2004). 32 The Representation of Action. In Michael S. Gazzaniga (ed.), The Cognitive Neurosciences Iii. Mit Press. 441.
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  37. Richard L. Gregory (1987). Seeing in Action. Cogito 1 (3):6-10.
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  38. Donald F. Gustafson (1989). Intention and Agency. Noûs 23 (2):279-281.
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  39. B. J. H. (1962). Foresight and Understanding. Review of Metaphysics 15 (3):530-530.
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  40. Afsaneh Haddadi & Kurt Sundermeyer (1996). Belief-Desire-Intention Agent Architectures. In N. Jennings & G. O'Hare (eds.), Foundations of Distributed Artificial Intelligence. Wiley. 169--185.
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  41. Adrian Haddock (2011). The Knowledge That a Man has of His Intentional Actions. In Anton Ford, Jennifer Hornsby & Frederick Stoutland (eds.), Essays on Anscombe's Intention. Harvard University Press.
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  42. Lawrence Hamilton (2009). 45 Needs and Agency. In Jan Peil & Irene van Staveren (eds.), Handbook of Economics and Ethics. Edward Elgar. 340.
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  43. Patricia Ann Handwerk (1968). An Investigation of the Concept of Action. Dissertation, The Ohio State University
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  44. A. H. Hannay (1941). Action. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 42:141 - 150.
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  45. Heinz Heckhausen & Julius Kuhl (1985). From Wishes to Action: The Dead Ends and Short Cuts on the Long Way to Action. In Michael Frese & John Sabini (eds.), Goal Directed Behavior: The Concept of Action in Psychology. L. Erlbaum Associates. 10--134.
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  46. T. Y. Henderson (1966). The Gap Between Good Strategy and Right Action. Philosophy 41 (157):260 - 267.
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  47. Cecilia Heyes & Anthony Dickinson (1990). The Intentionality of Animal Action. Mind and Language 5 (1):87–103.
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  48. Alexander Hill (1800). From Reflex Action to Volition.
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  49. Martin Hollis (1977). The Self in Action. In R. S. Peters (ed.), John Dewey Reconsidered. Routledge and Kegan Paul. 56--75.
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  50. Rosalind Hursthouse (1969). The Logic of Decision and Action. Philosophical Books 10 (1):24-26.
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